Rail travel is considered to be one of the most efficient modes of transportation. With a history dating back to the 19th century, rail travel has been embraced for quick transportation. An estimated 1.8 billion people travel by rail annually with the industry generating revenue of $227.21bn in 2021. Developments in recent times have helped to make it increasingly more sustainable and rail transport is now considered a much safer alternative to cars and buses with regards to environmental impact. Growing interest in rail travel is expected to drive increased investment and a higher load of travelers and journeys to manage. Existing challenges in the industry regarding safety as well as emerging needs to adequately manage passenger flow will call for advanced ideas to manage them.
AI and Rail Travel
The challenges of rail travel range from ensuring safety of the rails to managing revenue and customer flow. Rail travel has benefited greatly from advances in technology which continue to offer solutions and insights to improve the effectiveness of railways. AI presents even more opportunities to overcome these challenges:
Crowd Management: Information delivered to systems in real time can help to decongest platforms and reduce overcrowding at stations. Time periods that have peak flow in passenger flow can be anticipated and signs can be adjusted to properly direct passengers in such a way to prevent crowding of stations
Customer Behavior Forecasting: The flow of passengers also differs with regards to holiday seasons and other factors. Analytic systems can be used to forecast customer behavior and such information will be useful in designing schedules that will help operators adequately prepare for more passengers when required. This will also help to fix prices by determining when people are more or less likely to travel.
Conversational AI: AI can also be used by customer service to generate appropriate responses to customers’ inquiries. This will help in maintaining customer satisfaction and ensuring the delivery of seamless service. Delays can also be quickly communicated to customer with suggestions for different travel routes or postponements.
Rail Schedule Management: By collecting and organizing information on ticket sales in real time, AI can be used to plan schedules and timetables that will ensure the best possible routes for efficient service. In addition, such factors as weather, holidays and other events can be used to forecast and predict possible fluctuations in ticket sales and help railway companies to adjust their provisions to meet demand.
Self-Service Systems: Deployment of self service systems can reduce check-in time at stations. Self service can also be employed in ticket sales and baggage checks to assist human workers and hasten transit times.
Safety Management: Sensors on trains as well as the rail can contribute significantly to safety by detecting the presence of objects or people which may pose a danger to the train and passengers. Alarms can also be implemented to alert engineers of such obstacles and systems can be used to reduce the speed of the train and provide a window of opportunity to secure safety on the journey.
Maintenance Schedule: AI can also facilitate maintenance and repair of damage by tracking information about the performance and health of the trains. Catalogs can also be provided to help technicians determine what spare parts are required for repairs and these can be ordered quickly and easily. Rail inspection can also be powered by AI to ensure thorough checks and maintain functioning.
Already, rail travel is greatly favored for public transportation in many developed countries due to its highly efficient nature in moving great numbers of passengers with reduced environmental impact. Integration of AI will further encourage its adoption and ensure that it remains a safe and effective means of transportation.